Mayoral contender distances himself from president Former Taiwanese Premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting says it would not be a bad idea if scandal-plagued President Chen Shui-bian quit. The remarks by Mr Hsieh, who is running for mayor of Taipei in next month's election, were seen as an attempt to distance himself from the president, who has come under increasing pressure to step down over a string of corruption scandals involving him, his family and government. 'After all, stepping down would not be the worst scenario,' Mr Hsieh said yesterday after campaigning in Taipei. Mr Hsieh, whose election bid has been undermined by the scandals clouding Mr Chen and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said it was time for the president to consider whether to resign. Mr Hsieh stressed he was merely making a 'friendly proposal' and would never be part of a bid to force the president to resign. Asked later in the day to comment on the resignations yesterday of two prominent DPP lawmakers, Lin Cho-shui and Lee Wen-chung, in protest against the way the party had handled the corruption allegations against Mr Chen, Mr Hsieh said he respected their personal decisions. Mr Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, was charged with corruption on November 3 for allegedly embezzling NT$14.8 million (HK$3.5 million) by using receipts provided by others to account for spent state funds. Prosecutors also said they had enough evidence to charge Mr Chen with corruption, but could not do so because of presidential immunity. Analysts said that in the face of increasing demands for Mr Chen to resign, DPP political heavyweights had been forced to choose whether to back Mr Chen or not. 'It is not surprising for some heavyweights, like Frank Hsieh, to make such comments because they have to think of their political future,' said political analyst George Tsai, of the Institute of International Relations. He said that although other DPP 'superstars' like Premier Su Tseng-chang and Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, the presidential frontrunners, had yet to make clear moves to distance themselves from Mr Chen, they would have to do so sooner or later. The latest opinion poll by the cable news channel TVBS shows that Mr Hsieh is way behind his main opponent, the opposition Kuomintang's Hau Lung-bin, in voter support in Taipei with just 17 per cent backing against Mr Hau's 49 per cent as of Saturday. Meanwhile, KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou, the Taipei mayor, has come under attack over his use of a special fund allocated for the city government. Mr Ma, the opposition's best chance in the 2008 presidential race, was accused by DPP officials of misusing the special fund and faces investigators today. KMT spokesman Huang Yu-sheng said the accusation was just another attempt by the DPP to divert public attention from Mr Chen's case. There have been calls from within the KMT for former chairman Lien Chan, who lost in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, to be asked to run again in the 2008 race. Mr Lien declined to comment yesterday on whether he would consider running again.